The Early Years Framework

Steps the Scottish Government, local partners and practitioners in early years services need to take to give all children in Scotland the best start in life.


Within the 10 elements of the model for transformational change, there are a number of actions and objectives which local and Scottish Government consider to be important factors for success. These actions and objectives are not ends in themselves, but are our analysis of the steps which in time are most likely to lead to improved outcomes.

In order to provide a sense of direction and to build momentum, the priorities are broken down into short, medium and long-term steps. Progress can be made on short-term actions within the spending review period 2008-11, although some will need continuing work over the longer term to ensure they are fully embedded within service culture and practice. The medium-term priorities may require work to be started now, but are likely to involve effort over a number of years to put into practice. Long-term objectives are those that will take the most time to achieve.

Many of the actions have a local and national component, and will require input from a range of partners. Some will be for Scottish Government to lead, others will mainly be the responsibility of local authorities and Community Planning Partners.

On their own these actions are not a full description of transformational change or of what will be required to improve outcomes. This is why the table below should not be read as prescriptive - partners are encouraged to innovate and to join up the elements of transformational change in the way that best meets local needs.

Ultimately, improving outcomes will be the test of success.

Short-term actions

Medium-term priorities

Longer-term objectives

A coherent approach

Local partners will start implementing this framework as part of the development of the 2009-10 round of single outcome agreements.

Local partners will start the process of aligning resources to local priorities for action.

The Scottish Government will ensure Directors involved in the SOA process are fully briefed on the framework and will work proactively to support Community Planning Partnerships as they develop local priorities and plans.

A clear view of how families, communities and services can work together to improve outcomes.

Early years and childcare has a strategic role within community planning structures, building on the existing statutory obligation for integrated children's services planning. Ensuring the approach is centred on children's needs rather than processes.

A continuum of support from pregnancy through to primary school.

Resources used more effectively.

Helping children, families and communities to secure outcomes thaemselves

The Scottish Government will work with partners to design and commission a social marketing campaign that supports parenting skills and promotes the value of parenting.

Local partners will work to develop a parental capacity-building model for antenatal and postnatal services.

HMIe will publish a review of what works in community learning and development to support positive outcomes in early years.

HMIe will also publish a report on good practice in early years services in involving and supporting parents.

Developing mutual support networks for parents and other carers.

Nurseries, schools and childcare services develop their role in supporting family and community learning.

Community development programmes include parenting and early years as one of their priorities.

Opportunities for parents to get involved in services as volunteer helpers or similar roles.

Supporting grandparents and informal carers who spend significant amounts of time with care of children.

Parents feel better supported and have improved parenting skills.

Greater capacity amongst parents to improve outcomes for themselves.

Breaking cycles of poverty, inequality and poor outcomes in and through early years

The Scottish Government and local partners will work together to develop a co-ordinated approach to early years, health inequalities and poverty at national and local level.

The Scottish Government will develop a pilot of Nurse Family Partnership.

A renewed focus on services from pregnancy through to age 3 as a key opportunity to build resilience and break cycles of poor outcomes.

Services such as housing, substance misuse treatment and development planning recognise and promote the needs of children.

More consistent access to intensive family support for those who need it.

Sexual health advice and services integrated into services for high risk groups such as substance misusers and looked after children. Accessible drop-in sexual health services for teenagers.

Taking opportunities to break into cycles of poor outcomes at key stages.

A focus on engagement and empowerment of children, families and communities

The Scottish Government will lead development of a common values statement for the early years workforce. This will involve a wide range of interested parties and be based on work already commenced through Getting it Right for Every Child.

NHS Education Scotland ( NES) will take forward new educational developments for roles in the children and young people's workforce at SCQF levels 7 and 8. The Scottish Government and the Scottish Social Services Council will work with NES to ensure that, over time, we can develop joint roles across health, education and social services.

Embed the values within initial training, induction, CPD, professional standards and service culture.

A focus on engagement skills for all early years practitioners.

Joint appointments between health, education and social work services.

Developing a strategic view of where workers with broader skills can add value to existing services.

Improved engagement with children and families.

Using the strength of universal services to deliver prevention and early intervention

The Scottish Government will commission NHS Quality Improvement Scotland to develop integrated care pathways for antenatal, maternity and postnatal care.

Local partners will develop capacity to meet a range of health and wider social needs in maternity support services.

The Scottish Government and local partners will work together to implement concordat commitments which increase the capacity of nurseries and the early stages of primary.

The Scottish Government and local partners will work together to implement Curriculum for Excellence.

The Care Commission will develop early intervention as an inspection focus for daycare of children services in 2009-10.

HMIe will include early intervention and good practice as part of its report on aspects of the early years framework.

An enhanced programme of antenatal, and postnatal support that meets a range of medical and social needs, based on a parental capacity-building model, with the health of parents at the core.

Enhanced early intervention, particularly in areas such as communication, literacy and numeracy. This will be supported by a continuing HMIe focus on these areas within inspections.

Making use of universal services to better meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Equipping all young people to make positive choices about pregnancy and parenthood through Curriculum for Excellence, based on a mix of academic skills, skills for work, sex education, parenting skills and broader life skills matched to individual needs.

Early intervention becomes a core value across a wide range of services in and beyond early years.

Putting quality at the heart of service delivery

The Scottish Government will commission an analysis of skills and skills gaps across the different professions in early years, as the first in a series of research and analysis projects.

The Scottish Government will use the Common Values Statement and the analysis of skills and gaps to identify core skills needed to deliver The Early Years Framework and Getting it Right for Every Child.

The Scottish Government and local partners will enhance management and leadership skills, by continuing to support SCQF Level 9 courses in childhood practice.

The Scottish Government will work with Teacher Education Institutions to develop courses which will offer more specialised early years teaching skills.

Reflecting priority areas in local CPD and training programmes.

Build on developments such as the Continuous Learning Framework in social services and essential shared capabilities which have been developed for the health and social services workforce.

Study the characteristics of successful workforce models in other countries. This will help us shape a long-term workforce development options in Scotland.

Early years services aligned to evidence of what works.

CPD and training aligned to those skills and qualities that will have the greatest impact on outcomes.

Improving the quality of services by having every early years and childcare centre led at graduate level or equivalent.

Improved early years teaching skills and improved quality in early years education.

Services that meet the needs of children and families

The Scottish Government will promote the benefits of a single, accessible and progressive means of supporting parents with the costs of childcare. We will also promote uptake of the UK childcare vouchers scheme with employers and employees.

A strategic view of childcare accessibility and how to start addressing gaps.

A single gateway to a range of advice and information for children and families. Marketing this proactively.

Access to integrated pre-school and childcare services in every community matched to an assessment of local demand.

A new and more progressive means of supporting parents with the costs of childcare.

Improve outcomes and children's quality of life through play

The Scottish Government is currently working with Inspiring Scotland on a possible venture philanthropy fund to support play. If research shows that such a fund can improve outcomes, then the Scottish Government is prepared to invest £4m over the first 2 years.

The Scottish Government, in partnership with the Care Commission, Play Scotland and the police will lead a debate on understanding and balancing the benefits of play against risk.

Through Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish Government and local partners will continue to promote play-based learning, including in early primary.

HMIe will continue to focus on the quality of energetic and outdoor play on all inspection activities. Evidence and reports will continue to include evaluations of outdoor learning and developments in such areas as Forest School Initiative.

Developing local play and green space policies and improving play opportunities.

Promoting positive environments for children and families through planning, regeneration and transport policies.

Nurseries and schools supporting outdoor learning and outdoor play. Trying out innovative approaches such as nature kindergartens.

High quality play opportunities in every community. Increased play and physical activity.

Simplifying and streamlining delivery

Community planning partners to commission a locally-developed plan and change programme for providing a more co-ordinated set of supports for children and families, building on integrated children's services planning.

Developing clear strategic leadership for 0-3 services.

A simplified and streamlined early years service landscape.

More effective collaborations

A local review of partnership arrangements to align them with outcomes and start developing longer-term and more strategic partnerships.

Developing models of service delivery that combine public sector and partners working alongside each other to common objectives.

Seamless integration between public sector and partnership services.

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